After a very long night bus I made it up to the deserts of northern Chile to a little town called San Pedro de Atacama.It was so tiny - I felt like I was in the wild west!Never had I been to a place so desolate but so charming.There I met up w/ my friend Johanne the Canadian and went w/ her on a tour to Laguna Cejar and the salt flats. When we got to the salt lake we all went in and it was like the dead sea (very salty - you totally float - feet too!) but the water was FREEZING!We went to another lake called the 2 eyes where we got some cool pics of our reflection in the water.The last spot was the salt fields and it was amazing since there was a full moon and it came out early.I even missed the sunset because I was so busy looking at the full moon and its reflection in the salt lake.
The next day I did a Death valley sandboarding tour.It was very pretty - tons of sand dunes and we saw a car get stuck & then we got stuck for a minute too!The guy gave us lessons and then I did it 3 times in a row perfectly on the little hill.I was so excited!When I did it on the big hill it didn't go quite as well.My second ride down was Kamikazee and I almost wiped out a guy at the bottom and I did a 360degree flip!!The trip back up the sand dunes was quite exhausting after every trip down but I went down quite a few times and had a lot of fun.We then had to hurry in order to get to Moon Valley in time for the sunset where we ran up another sand dune trying to catch the sunset.The sun going down itself wasn't that great but the red colors of the volcanoes and mountains around were pretty.
Day 3 we rented bicycles and rode out past Pukara de Quitor, over a little creek that we had to take our shoes off & walk through on to Catarpe which ended up being just a cute little church that was closed.On the way back we saw this cool old man carrying buckets of water & took pictures w/ him.His name was el Tongo.After that we walked through the sand/salt labyrinth at Devil's Gorge and we tried to climb to the top of one of the dunes but couldn't make it cause the sand was so soft!We caught a little of the sunset on the ride back & it was nice but not spectacular.
The last day I took another bike ride, this time to a little archeological site called Tulor. The ruins themselves were not very spectacular - adobe circles in the ground but I was glad I went.After that I rode a little ways into Valley de la Muerte then had to rush to get to Pukara de Quitor.After dinner I took the observatory tour in French since that was the only one available.The guy was really funny and I understood most of it.It was freezing outside but we got to see Saturn w/ its rings, a close up of the moon, a nebulous, a spot w/ tons of little stars together (star cluster) and the jewelbox they call it cause it is a group of stars that appear like jewels of different colors (although I only saw one orange star).I also saw 2 stars very close together & Cyrius which kept changing colors like a spazzing rainbow.It was so cool!!He also showed us Leo the lion & scorpio which was so cool cause I had never seen the lion, my sign before.He also explained the southern cross and the rotation of the sky & how everything moves but very slowly.He also said that the brighter stars are not necessarily the closest stars - that is a myth.Also the light we see is very old.It takes the light from stars years to reach us because they are so far away.The closest star light reaches us almost 5 years later! In fact by the time we actually see an exploded dead star it may have been dead for thousands of years before that light hits us!!It was very interesting!